ASUS GTX570 DirectCU II Edition

Geekspeak411 - 2011-06-15 18:53:45 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Geekspeak411   
Reviewed on: June 30, 2011
Price: $340

Introduction:

The 500 series from NVIDIA is not new by any means, but as cards go, a few months can lead to a lot of refinement when vendors are able to really set its cards apart from the reference design and get creative. Some apply massive factory overclocks, some offer passive cooling through massive heatsinks, and others even offer built-on waterblocks and additional RAM or some other goodies. The GTX570 DirectCU II Edition from ASUS brings a very awesome redesign to the table in the form of what could very well be a passive tri-slot cooler with five big heatpipes, but then goes ever further, strapping two gigantic fans on for the ride! What we have here, ladies and gentlegeeks, is a three slot GTX570 from ASUS, complete with dual 80mm fans, five direct contact heatpipes, and voltage tweak capability housed in a full metal casing that looks as beastly as the specs sound.

ASUS has a good reputation for pushing out quality products at every price level, from pure reference designs all the way to the wildly expensive ARES series cards, so my hopes are high for this new design, to say the least. I love PC gaming, as it is a great way for developers to really push their skills and a great way for enthusiasts to interactively push their systems. I do not, however, enjoy blasting the audio channels to neighborhood-waking levels just to drown out the awful whine of cooling fans. Now don't get me wrong, I love pushing my computers to the limits, but sometimes the fan levels required to do so consistently are just not worth it.

Closer Look:

ASUS graphics card packaging is pretty uniform across the brand. In the top left corner, there's a big white ASUS logo with a big DirectCU II badge right underneath. On the right side, a huge, heavily clad knight dominates the atmosphere backed by ASUS-standard heavily saturated gradients. Along the bottom are badges promoting the GeForce classification of this card, its massive factory overclock of — wait for it — 10 MHz over the reference design, and other tech specs. Since this article is published by OverclockersClub.com, I will definitely push the card a bit further than ASUS has, but that has to wait until later on in the review. On the back of the packaging, the company decided to once more assault the eye with the usual few bullets printed in a plethora of languages, giving the faint hope of useful information, but instead offering trivial facts and marketing terms — in a multitude of dialects so diverse, ancient creators of the Rosetta Stone would be proud. It's not all lost hope on the back though — underneath that panel lie some more unique badges advertising the card's cooling system and other properietary technologies. Overall, a nice looking box, but that's not what I buy parts for anyways, so let's move on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is a matte black box with a subtle gold ASUS logo printed on the cover. Releasing the flaps and lifting the cover reveals a similarly-themed black envelope-type container that holds the manual and driver disc and is suspended in the middle of the packaging by a mediocre-grade black Styrofoam. Lifting the top piece of Styrofoam reveals the gold at the end of the rainbow, the GTX570 in its antistatic bag with a few accessories right below.

 

 

Only the basics are included here — you get a DVI to VGA adapter, a dual PCI-E 6-pin to PCI-E 8-pin, a CrossFire bridge, and the envelope with a quick start guide and driver disc inside. Nothing much to see here, but the envelope is nicely finished. 

 

The packaging looks good, the card is well protected during shiping, and the accessory bundle is adequate, if not a little slim. No big issues here, so let's see the card itself!

Closer Look:

Make no mistake folks, this is one hulking card. This is just about the largest factory design I have ever seen for any graphics card — it will collectively consume three expansion slots on your case, and makes little 6850 cards look like ants under a shoe. It’s a big card. Despite its size, build quality is superb. The casing is one hundred percent metal construction, including a back-mounted heat spreader on the rear of the card. It feels great and is very solid overall. It’s very ASUS-esque. After accepting the sheer size of the card, I actually rather like the size because the cooling capability should far exceed any other options out there. It is definitely not for everyone, but I could get used to it. The cooling is unique, if not a bit underutilized by the plain pitiful 10MHz factory overclock, but coupled with ASUS’ bundled SmartDoctor software suite, I should be able to jump ahead quite a bit further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the 3-slot cooling, the standard assortment of connections exists here — dual DVI ports, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort. The back end of the card is pretty plain, but definitely trim and muscular thanks to the metal housing. The same goes for both sides, which leave plenty of space for warm air to vent.

 

 

 

Along the side of the card sit two headers for SLI, enabling all kinds of multi-card goodness, and toward the rear end of the card are the two supplementary power connections in the form of a 6-pin and an 8-pin (a step up from the reference design).

 

 

I included the following two shots because I think they're a good testament to this card's build quality. It is tough to capture on camera, but the focus of the pictures is the big silver screw hole that's slightly recessed and ribbed around the edges. It is leveled perfectly with the surface of the heatspreadder and serves as a mounting area for the spring-loaded screws that attach around the GPU itself, preventing scratching and providing a very refined look all together. I've never seen such fine detail taken on a card like this before, so I had to share. 

 

 

Removing the heatsink from the PCB was a fairly streamlined task. Once removed, I was greeted by gobs of mid-grade thermal paste on a well-machined surface. It wasn't the best machining job I've seen, but it will definitely get the job done. Removing the metal casing brings the two large fans in to focus and I've also included a picture of the heatsink next to a standard mini screwdriver to give a general idea of the size of these heatpipes — they're big.

 

 

 

ASUS didn't stop there with the cooling — also mounted on the board are two more supplementary heatsinks for the power system. As seen above, the entire back face of the card is covered with an aluminum backplate. This plate is not just for looks though, it serves as a gigantic heatsink, as well as a protective cover for the card, preventing shorts in the circuitry from clumsy fingers. On the top face, there's a thinner heatshink that sits happily underneath the primary. Both have a high quality thermal tape applied to them, serving thermal transfer duties. 

 

 

 

With the heatsinks fully removed, I can finally get a good look at the GTX570 sitting in front of me. There's a ton of stuff going on — the power system is crammed in to about an inch of space, with the RAM in its usual spot surrounding the GPU core and the NEC chip sitting happily on the back.

 

 

 

Let’s check out the official specs of this card and then see if they stack up to the OCC Test Bench Suite!

Specifications:

Graphics Engine
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.0
Memory Type
GDDR5 1280MB
Engine Clock
742 MHz
CUDA Core
480
Memory Clock
3800 MHz (950 MHz GDDR5)
RAMDAC
400 MHz
Memory Interface
320-bit
Resolution
D-Sub Max Resolution: 2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution: 2560x1600
Interface
D-Sub Output: Yes x 1
DVI Output: Yes x 2 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output: Yes x 1 
Display Port: Yes x 1 (Regular DP)
Accessories
1 x Power Cable
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
1 x Extended SLI cable
ASUS Features
DirectCU Series
Super Alloy Power
Dimensions
11.5" x 5" Inch
Note
To have the best cooling performance ASUS ENGTX570 DCII/2DIS/1280MD5 extends the Fansink to 2.5 slot, please check your motherboard slot space before SLI

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/Graphics_Cards/NVIDIA_Series/ENGTX570_DCII2DIS1280MD5/#overview

Testing:

Testing of the ENGTX570 DirectCU II will mean running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors in order to gauge its performance. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX is disabled in the NVIDIA Control Panel when applicable. I will test the card at stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with or faster than the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted. I really want to see just how fast this card can fly!

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked Settings:

Well needless to say, I want to improve on the 10MHz overclock that ASUS ships stock. With such a massive cooling system and the voltage tweaking capability baked in, I have high hopes of success with this card. I began in earnest trying to find the upper limits of this chip. Opening up ASUS' bundled Smart Doctor utility with GPU-Z to verify settings, I set the fans to 100% and ran MSI's Kombustor utility to warm up the card and provide background stress as I push the card. I began moving up 10 MHz at a time, leaving the voltage at stock for now, allowing five minutes in between bumps to verify moderate stability. I continued doing this up to 865 MHz, where I finally crashed. I went back down to 860 MHz and let it burn in for 15 minutes with no errors and the GPU core sitting at a mere 62 degrees Celcius, I knew this was going to be fun. I nudged up the voltage and continued, swapping between voltage and clock speed as I went. I maxed out at a mind-numbing 925 MHz on the core at 1.1v and 988 on the DDR5 running at 80 degrees Celcius. This card's a spunky one, boys - that's nearly 200 MHz over reference speeds. Time to bench it.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each card has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using MSI's Kombustor utility. So far my testing has shown that higher clock speeds may be stable in games where GPU usage does not reach 100%, but will crash within a few minutes using this utility. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15-minute test at 1920 x 1200, 8x AA.

 

 

  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. HAWX 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5
  7. Mafia II
  8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  9. Lost Planet 2
  10. 3DMark 11
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The overclock definitely kicks in and bumps up to the 6970 level at 1920x1200.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied — in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Higher = Better

Whoops, I forgot there was a difference between the GTX570 and its big brother the GTX580 for a second — the overclocked scored were too similar! Great value if this kind of performance keeps up.

Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead the civilization from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and massive changes to the way the AI is used throughout the game. Civilization V is developed by Firaxis Games and is published by 2K games and was released for Windows in September of 2010. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns,150 turns into the game.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The GTX570 is right where it should be with overclocking showing good gains overall. Moving right along!

Testing:

H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight game and is the sequel to H.A.W.X.. The Game is published by Ubisoft and was released in late 2010.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

HAWX testing showed NVIDIA cards have a real advantage here, while overclocking didn't show huge gains.

Testing:

Published by Capcom, Lost Planet 2 is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and uses the MT Framework 2.0 engine. The storyline takes place on the fictional planet E.D.N. III some 10 years after the events of the first game. This time, the snow cover is gone and has been replaced by a tropical landscape. With this new rendition of the game comes the ability to run it using either DirectX 9 or 11. Along with this ability comes the chance to use that new DX 11 hardware to effect. DX11 features in this game include tessellation, displacement mapping on water, bosses and player characters, soft body compute shaders on “Boss” characters, and wave simulation by way of DirectCompute. This gives you smoke that is lifelike and reacts to inputs, water that looks and reacts how you would expect it to in a "real life" situation, and "Boss" characters rendered with more depth and detail. If the latest graphics quality settings are not enough, NVIDIA has included support behind this game for both 3D Vision and 3D Vision Surround, which gives you 3D effects over multiple screens. There is no better way to see how a game will perform than to test it out. Capcom has made this easy with a downloadable benchmark that we will be using to test out a cross section of today's currently available performance video cards.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Good performance is shown across the board, with overclocking showing a 9 FPS increase at 1920x1200.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. This was the first DX 11 benchmark out to allow testing of DX 11 features. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes — Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The ENGTX570 continually shows up the reference counterpart and approached the GTX580's numbers. 

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The ENGTX570 holds its ground quite nicely here, offering good bang for the buck, keeping pace in front of the 6970 and right behind the GTX580.

Testing:

Mafia II is a third-person shooter that puts you into the shoes of a poor, Sicilian immigrant, Vito Scarletta. Vito has just returned home from serving overseas in the liberation of fascist Italy — to avoid serving his jail sentence — to find his family in debt. The debt must be repaid by the end of the week, and his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, conveniently happens to have questionable connections that he assures will help Vito clear the debt by that time. As such, Vito is sucked into a world of quick cash. Released in North America for PC in August of 2010, the game was developed by 2K Czech published by 2K and uses the Illusion 1.3 game engine.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The same story holds true in the Mafia II testing as I've been seeing earlier — good gains on the GTX580 are made.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3 and XBox. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single player campaign or multiplayer with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has so far sold in excess of six million copies.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

This is some awesome performance here, did you catch it? The ENGTX570 is keeping up with its big brother when overclocked!

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11 so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark and the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and have a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story, they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides with the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Synthetic testing really shows off the power of the overclock, offering almost 200 points over the reference design.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Crysis Warhead with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using a resolution of 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 10-run sequence to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20-minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

Given the huge size of this card, thermals need to be second to none in order to be justified. Luckily for ASUS, the gamble paid off and the temperatures are excellent in every single test but the last, in which I am willing to forgive given the ridiculous overvoltage and overclock I am pushing through. Very, very, very good showing, but does it justify the size? That's for the consumer to decide — for me, I would definitely pick one up.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15-minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. For load testing the GTX 500 series, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

Power consumption is right on the curve here, nothing out of the ordinary.

Conclusion:

Talk about addressing the elephant in the room! ASUS has a good history of producing quality products that don't skimp on quality while still pushing them at competitive prices. With this ENGTX570 DirectCU II Edition card, ASUS has brought to the table a card with a completely original cooling system at nearly the same price as the reference design, but with a pay off. This card is huge. At three expansion slots, some may have to forget their dreams of a slick SLI setup unless they're planning on picking up an extended motherboard with roomier PCI-E configurations. On the upside, the temperatures were rock bottom at stock speeds and, when I cranked the fan up to 100%, the card idled a whopping three degrees over room temperature. That's a testament to the effectiveness of the system that I couldn't hope to best. Better yet, on stock testing, the fans never once cranked up above 20%. If the graph is no longer in your memory, this card STILL had the lowest temperature of the pack under both idle conditions and loaded conditions. That is extremely impressive.

When it comes to making a recommendation on this card, I think the cooling system is a great addition to the card, especially at the price. Choice is good, but really the usefulness of this card is going to lie directly in the hands of the end user. My recommendation on this card is a simple, resounding — if you can fit it and it won't bump things it shouldn't be bumping, and your power supply has the proper power connections above the original specifications, and your motherboard can support the size of this card (twice if you're considering SLI) — YES! 

 

Pros:

 

Cons: